After a string of recent fatal incidents at bus stops across the country, the Collier County Sheriff's Office is taking action to crack down on drivers who illegally pass buses when they're picking up kids at bus stops. Monday morning, deputies cited nine drivers suspected of blowing past the buses - even though the bus drivers had activated the red lights and extended stop signs, warning drivers not to pass.
"We've had some incidents around the country where children have been killed," said Sergeant Terry Smith, a deputy with the traffic enforcement unit of the Collier County Sheriff's Office. "The sheriff wanted to make sure we got an operation out quickly."
In late October, three children, all siblings, were killed in rural Indiana when they were struck by a pickup truck as they were about to board a school bus.
Erica Bowen, a mother of elementary school children in North Naples, said there are too many distracted drivers in too much of a hurry.
"All in all, it's pretty outrageous," Bowen said. "It's a matter of ten seconds to stop (for a school bus.) I would be floored if I saw someone not obeying the stop sign on the bus, and my children have to cross the street."
In the enforcement operation by the Collier County Sheriff's Office, Smith said two deputies rode along on buses whose drivers had previously reported a high number of cars illegally passing them at bus stops.
"We have an officer on the bus who calls out the violations once the bus comes to a stop," Smith said. "Then we were further up the street to pull the violators over."
Smith said nine drivers were pulled over on Golden Gate Boulevard during the operation. Most of them were given citations that could cost them $268.
He said that two of the drivers were cited for passing on the right side of the bus, where children board.
"That's a mandatory court appearance," he said.